Also known as the eelworm, the root-knot nematode is a tiny, translucent worm that operates in your soil, burrowing into the roots of preferred plant species. There it lays its larvae, which then feed on the plant’s nutrients while restricting its ability to function properly.

It is almost impossible to identify the problem until the season’s end. The changeover of crops will reveal the tumour-like swellings or galls on the root matter, indicating where the worm has burrowed in and laid its eggs.

Anyone with a young child can tell you just how easy it is to pass a sickness around a family. The nightshade family is no exception and is particularly susceptible to root-knot nematodes. Practise crop rotation and don’t follow your eggplant (aubergine), capsicum (bell pepper) and tomato plants with potatoes. Instead, rotate in something a little more potent like garlic and chives. Not only will this help to keep the garden parasites at bay, but your very own family will also benefit from their immune-boosting properties.

Optimal Conditions

A soil that has previously hosted the root-knot nematodes.


Tumour-like swellings on the plant roots


Crop rotation is the best practice to prevent the eelworm from burrowing back in. The marigold is a great companion plant that will reduce their numbers


Make sure your soil is healthy with a good level of organic matter for strong plant growth. A healthy plant will cope much better with root-knot nematodes than a malnourished one.


Dig out all the root matter of the affected crops and dispose of them in a bin or burn them rather than composting.

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